A national study is seeking women in the U.S. to help determine the safest and best way to screen for breast cancer, and to improve on current guidelines.
It’s being conducted at several sites across the country with the aim of enrolling 100,000 women, 40 to 74 years of age, who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer. One site, The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), plans to enroll up to 5,000 women over five years.
“This is a unique opportunity for women to participate in a study that can help generations of women to come,” Rachael Lancaster, MD, a principal investigator of the study and assistant professor in the UAB Division of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, said in a university news story.
The WISDOM, or Women Informed to Screen Depending On Measures of risk, national study was launched in 2016 at the University of California, San Francisco. It is comparing two safe and accepted screening approaches: annual routine mammography or a personalized screening approach based on a woman’s individual risk factors for breast cancer, such as breast density, genes, and family history.
“This nationwide study offers all women — regardless of where they live, where they receive health care or health insurance type — the opportunity to participate in this groundbreaking research and to receive screening recommendations and risk reduction strategies,” said Monica Baskin, PhD, professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and associate director for the O’Neal center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement.
Annual mammograms — recommended by U.S. doctors for women age 40 and older — will be advised for those considered at average risk. These women will help determine if reduced mammogram frequency is advisable to help lower costs and possibly reduce concerns about false positive results.
Women identified as high risk for breast cancer will receive a personalized screening plan based on their unique risk factors. These women will be offered risk reduction strategies and undergo additional screening using magnetic resonance imaging.
“If woman is interested in learning more about her personal risk of breast cancer and potentially screening for breast cancer based on this risk, this study is a good option,” said Lancaster.
“Participants can express a preference as to which study group they desire to be enrolled in or they can elect to be randomly assigned,” she added. “This means a woman can still participate in this study and still get her annual mammograms just as she has always done.”
Additionally, the study aims to include women from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and locations to improve breast cancer detection within medically underserved populations and minorities, such as women of color, who are at a higher risk for lethal cancers.
“Breast cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease, and in that vein, breast cancer risk also varies by race and ethnicity,” Baskin said. “That is why we need racial and ethnic diversity in WISDOM, and we need the help of so many different women.”
The study will be conducted online, in Spanish or English, and participation can be done mostly from home. Women do not have to go to a study site or change the location of their usual exam. A previous mammogram is allowed and encouraged.
For more information on the study, you can watch this video, or call 855-729-2844.